Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

The Nations of the Treaty  8 support class action against Alberta and Canada

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According to a report published in 2015, children Indigenous people make up 9% of the child population in Alberta, but 69% of children in the care of social services are Indigenous.

Radio-Canada

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In Alberta, Treaty 8 Nations announce the launch of a class action lawsuit against the provincial and federal governments. They denounce the fact that certain children placed under the protection of the province's children's services did not benefit from the special child allowance (ASE) which was paid for them.

The goal of this class action is to recover CSA money that the Alberta government stole from children in the province's care, alleges Harold Cochrane, an Indigenous lawyer from the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba, who is co-adviser of the plaintiffs.

He who is also founding partner of the law firm Cochrane Saxberg LLP believes that Canada has done nothing while 'he had the power to prevent the misleading use of the ESA.

Lawyer Kris Saxberg, also co-counsel for the plaintiffs, adds that Alberta currently considers this money to be fungible.

It is wrong to consider ASEs, which are intended for specific children, for specific purposes, […] as funding for the maintenance of children.

A quote from Kris Saxberg, attorney and co-counsel for the plaintiffs

Kris Saxberg says that if the full amount is recovered, with interest, this large sum of money should be used to combat child poverty and in particular Indigenous child poverty.

According to a 2015 report (New window) prepared by the Indigenous Child Well-Being Task Force, Indigenous children make up 9% of the child population, but 69 % of children in the care of social services are Aboriginal in Alberta.

Kris Saxberg notes that in this context, there is also a question of indirect discrimination. This is what happens when a government puts in place a law that appears neutral on the surface, but disproportionately affects a particular group within society, he adds.

A spokeswoman for Alberta's Ministry of Children and Family Services said because the legal process is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment on the situation.

The federal government did not respond to a request for comment from Radio-Canada within the deadline.

Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey notes that communities only recently discovered this information. These facts are now surfacing thanks to the work of our urban offices, he says.

He deplores the fact that legal action is the only way to bring governments to the negotiating table.

When we have a government which will not look at the faults of its predecessors and which will seek to make amends honorable, it is at this moment that we will have some progress towards reconciliation, he believes.

In May 2022, a judge from The Court of King's Bench has ruled that the Manitoba government misappropriated federal funding intended for children in the province's care.

According to judge, between 2006 and 2019, Manitoba took in more than $334 million. Of these levies, $251 million was for Indigenous child and family service agencies.

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